Adobe updates Creative Cloud with a sync service, stock photos, and more

With each passing year, the line between mobile and desktop continues to blur. No longer limited to content consumption alone, smartphones and tablets have become powerful tools capable of liberating artists and designers from having to create their best work while chained to a computer.

Adobe's Creative Cloud pulls these disparate worlds closer together, with a major update announced Tuesday to bring faster performance and new tools across more platforms than ever.

Between two worlds

Anyone who's started reading a Kindle ebook on one device and picked up right where they left off on another is familiar with Whispersync, the technology Amazon uses to silently sync metadata in the background. Adobe has implemented their own version dubbed CreativeSync, which can be used to start a design or illustration on mobile and finish up on the desktop (or vice versa).

CreativeSync marks the first time Adobe has branded the service, which now covers all files, design assets, fonts, settings, and other content used in a particular workflow. Creative Cloud has been moving gradually toward this type of universal sync for several years now, and the introduction of CC Libraries last fall provided a way for designers to access commonly used elements from key desktop applications.

Now this feature has expanded to more places, including Premiere Pro CC, After Effects CC, and a number of mobile solutions. The news will be particularly welcome for Android users, now that existing Adobe Photoshop Mix, Brush CC, Color CC, and Shape CC apps are finally making the leap from iOS to Google's mobile platform.

Premiere Pro CC users also gain an entirely new app on their mobile tool belt with the introduction of Hue, allowing videomakers to capture lighting themes and "looks" on a smartphone and intelligently apply them to creations edited on the desktop or using the companion Premiere Clip app.

New for desktop

Despite Adobe's renewed push into mobile, the software maker continues to refine the Mac and PC applications they're best known for, and this year's updates--15 new versions in total--bring plenty of new features and performance enhancements to the table. For starters, Illustrator CC and InDesign CC have a number of under the hood enhancements resulting in big performance gains over CS6 (up to 10x), along with the ability to create custom charts, graphs, and infographics.

Photoshop CC 2015 can now add or remove haze from photos, a feature first previewed during last year's MAX conference, and now present in Lightroom CC as well. Existing Healing Brush and Path tools have also been supercharged up to 120 times faster, along with the option to add noise to Blur Gallery effects and combine photos with different exposures into a single HDR image.

App designers will love Photoshop's new ability to create multiple artboards within a single document--a feature borrowed from Illustrator--along with a more intuitive method for creating and exporting assets in just a few clicks. Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign assets can now be linked to CC Libraries with the option to update whenever changes are made, and publishing documents online is now easier than ever.

Last but not least, Premiere CC video editors will be able to smooth out jump cuts between sound bites and take advantage of easier color workflows, while After Effects promises interruption-free previews and the ability to animate 2D characters using a webcam.

Taking stock

Although the features outlined above are free to paying Creative Cloud members, one product making its debut actually requires a separate purchase--despite being integrated deeply across the CC lineup. Late last year, Adobe acquired stock photo and video service Fotolia, and that purchase now powers Adobe Stock, an all-new product offering royalty-free content for an affordable, flat-rate price of $10 each (Adobe is quick to point out this is well below industry standard).

Monthly subscription pricing is also available for 10 images at $50 per month, but this price is reduced to $30 per month for Creative Cloud members--and yes, that includes those on the cheapest $10 per month Photography plan. (Businesses can also grab up to 750 images every four weeks for $200 per month.)

Adobe Stock content is accessed directly from a separate library within Creative Cloud apps, where low-resolution placeholders can be dragged and dropped into a workflow to get a sense of how content will look before committing to buy. The real killer feature Unused credits roll over indefinitely, so you'll always get what you pay for.

Adobe encourages its community of creative users to contribute to the growing Stock catalog, which the company expects to cater to millions of professionals in the marketing and creative fields. (Worth noting: Adobe Stock is an entirely different animal than the former Adobe Stock Photos service introduced a decade ago with Creative Suite 2 and later discontinued with the arrival of CS4.)

Now available

Adobe Creative Cloud 2015 is now available for download from the Creative Cloud Desktop app for Mac or Windows; mobile apps can be installed directly from the App Store or Google Play. All updates are free for existing Creative Cloud members with a paid subscription, and mobile apps work with free accounts as well.


J.R. Bookwalter

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